What’s Next?

45

I started the Frequent Miler blog about a year ago.  My original intent for the blog was to have a means to teach family and friends about my new hobby.  Instead, the blog’s focus quickly changed to the “search for the perfect perpetual point machine”.  As a result, I frequently search for and write up complicated schemes for earning points and miles.  Additionally, I’m always on the look out for ways to earn airline and hotel elite status quickly and cheaply.  Here are a few of the results from those efforts:

  • 5X Everywhere: In the post “One card to rule them all” I showed how to earn 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar for virtually all transactions.  To do this trick you need a Chase Ink card (Ink Bold, Ink Plus, Ink Classic, or Ink Cash) and a nearby friendly and well stocked Office Depot.  If you have all of those things and a little time to devote to it, you’ll find points rolling in month after month.
  • Delta Platinum Status: In the post “Mileage running, from home” I showed how to use Delta branded credit cards to earn and maintain high level elite status with Delta.  By following this process I always have oodles of Delta SkyMiles available for redemption.  Platinum status gives me free upgrades on domestic flights, better award availability, and free award changes (up to 72 hours in advance of a flight).
  • Hyatt Diamond Status: In the post “Hacking Hyatt” I showed how it was possible to earn Hyatt Diamond status at a reasonable cost (during Hyatt’s first quarter 2012 promotion).  I didn’t go for this because I don’t often stay at Hyatt hotels, but a number of readers did go for it and they are now enjoying the great perks that Hyatt Diamond status offers (free breakfasts, free confirmable suite upgrades, etc.).
  • Southwest Companion Pass: In the post “Sears 15X: Leveraging the deal” (and several related posts) I showed how to earn a Southwest Airlines companion pass by buying and selling stuff from Sears during a 2 day promotion.  Thanks to that adventure, I’ve already booked my family’s spring break trip to Key West using a combination of Southwest points and the new companion pass earned from that deal.  The companion pass is good for the rest of this year and all of 2013!
  • Marriott Platinum Status: In the recent post “Pursuing Platinum @ Marriott” I detailed how I plan to secure Marriott Platinum status through Feb 2014.  If you’re interested in doing the same, please also see “Marriott Savings and Status”.  This status will ensure that I get a welcome gift with each stay, club lounge access (for free breakfast and evening hors devours) on weekdays, free internet, and room upgrades when available.

Thanks to the tricks listed above, and many others, I now have mid to high level elite status at multiple hotel chains and with Delta, and I have plenty of points and miles (see also “How I earned over 1 million points and miles in 6 months”).

So, what’s next?  What goals should we pursue?

The goals listed below are not necessarily easy or even possible.  They are, rather, goals that I think are worth pursuing if we can find ways to accomplish them:

More SPG Points:  Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) points are arguably the most valuable points you can get.  However, other than signing up for credit cards, winning contests, or actually staying at Starwood properties, SPG points can be hard to get.  There is no SPG Mall for earning bonus points, and sadly SPG Amex cards have no bonus categories for earning extra points at grocery stores, gas stations, etc.  Instead you simply earn 1 point per dollar for regular purchases, and 2 points per dollar at Starwood properties (Sheraton, Westin, W, etc.).  There are some point earning options involving investments, and time-shares that might be worth pursuing.  Let’s keep our eyes out for opportunities like these!

More Membership Rewards:  American Express’ Membership Rewards program is not as valuable as it used to be (especially with the loss of Continental as a transfer partner), but it’s still pretty good.  Points can be instantly transferred to airline programs such as Delta and British Airways.  Even better, Amex frequently runs transfer bonuses in which you get more than 1 airline mile for each point transferred.  So, finding cheap ways to accumulate Membership Rewards points is worth pursuing!

United Elite Status:  I don’t fly United often, but thanks to the Ultimate Rewards program I have access to plenty of United miles.  With Platinum status or better, I would have access to better award availability, free close-in award bookings, and free award changes.  While it’s currently possible to get all of those benefits by asking a friend with elite status to book award trips, it would be great to be able to do this on my own.  So, I’ll be on the lookout for easy ways to get and maintain United elite status.

SPG Platinum Status: Thanks to SPG Gold status this year I’ve received free internet during my stays, and I’ve been upgraded to club floor rooms a few times.  These perks are great, but with Platinum status I would be guaranteed free breakfast (continental breakfast, at least) and would be eligible for suite upgrades.

Hilton Diamond Status:  Hilton Gold status is incredibly easy to get and it is quite valuable on its own, so I don’t really need Diamond status.  However, two credit cards offer Diamond status after $40K per year in spend.  The Hilton Surpass card, in particular, is attractive since it offers 6 points per dollar at grocery stores, drug stores, and gas stations.  I’m tempted to get the Surpass card and then buy and liquidate $40K worth of gift cards per year at stores like these.  By doing so, I would earn 240,000 Hilton points per year, along with Diamond status!  The main reasons not to do this are that Hilton points are already very easy to come by through credit card churns, and that Gold status is nearly as valuable as Diamond status.

Hyatt Diamond Status:  Even though I passed on an earlier opportunity to earn Hyatt Diamond status, I still think this is a worthwhile goal.  There can be huge value to their free breakfasts, free internet, and suite upgrades on paid stays.  Let’s continue to look out for opportunities here.

More Ways to Increase Spend: I’ve written often about ways to increase credit card spend and get all (or most) of your money back.  See, for example, “Top 10 ways spend a lot of money (and get most of it back).”  Unfortunately, there is no single magic bullet that works for everyone without limit (at least, not since the US Mint stopped selling coins without shipping or handling fees).  Whether your goal is to meet minimum spend requirements for credit card sign-up bonuses, or to achieve very big spend to earn miles and/or elite status, this is a very important topic that I’ll continue to pursue indefinitely.

Reader Input

Did I miss any important goals that you would like to see added to the list?  Other than “more ways to increase spend” (which is a given), which of the above goals would you most like to see me pursue?  Please comment below.

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